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District Foam Ban Takes Effect January 1, 2016

December 31, 2015

(WASHINGTON, DC) December 30, 2015 – Starting January 1, 2016, District businesses and organizations that serve food will no longer be able to use containers or other food service products made of expanded polystyrene, commonly known as foam or Styrofoam™.

Passed by the DC Council in June 2014, the ban will reduce trash pollution in the District’s waterways. Foam litter is consistently one of the most prevalent types of trash pollution in the Anacostia River.

“Foam is easily blown by wind or washed by rain into our storm drains and waterbodies,” said Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director Tommy Wells. “Over time, foam litter breaks into small pieces that are difficult to remove from the environment and are harmful when eaten by wildlife. Other pollutants like oil, grease, and heavy metals can adhere to these small pieces, causing the contaminants to bioaccumulate in the food chain. The foam ban is an important part of the District’s ongoing efforts to reduce litter in our communities and to restore our rivers and waterbodies.”

Another provision of the law requires businesses and organizations to only use recyclable or compostable disposable dining products by 2017, which will help the District achieve its Sustainable DC Plan goal of 80% waste diversion by 2032.

To ease the transition, DOEE has conducted an extensive outreach campaign to educate businesses and organizations about the requirements of the ban. Efforts include door-to- door canvassing across all eight wards, mailings to all regulated businesses, and a web page with information about the ban and a list of vendors that sell compliant products.

For further information on the District’s foam ban, visit


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